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Karen Tei Yamashita in Conversation with Andrew Way Leong
November 5, 2020 @ 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm PST
Join us for a book talk with Karen Tei Yamashita, author of I-Hotel, Letters to Memory, and Sansei and Sensibility. Hosted by Andrew Way Leong and followed by a Q&A session with the audience.
WHEN: Thursday, November 5, 2020 | 2:30 PM PDT
About the books:
I Hotel – A multi-voiced fusion of prose, playwriting, graphic art, and philosophy that spins an epic tale of America’s struggle for civil rights as it played out in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Divided into ten novellas, one for each year, I Hotel begins in 1968, when Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated, students took to the streets, the Vietnam War raged, and cities burned.
As Karen Yamashita’s motley cast of students, laborers, artists, revolutionaries, and provocateurs make their way through the history of the day, they become caught in a riptide of politics and passion, clashing ideologies and personal turmoil. And by the time the survivors unite to save the International Hotel—epicenter of the Yellow Power Movement—their stories have come to define the very heart of the American experience.
Letters to Memory is an excursion through the Japanese internment using archival materials from the Yamashita family as well as a series of epistolary conversations with composite characters representing a range of academic specialties. Historians, anthropologists, classicists—their disciplines, and Yamashita’s engagement with them, are a way for her to explore various aspects of the internment and to expand its meaning beyond her family, and our borders, to ideas of debt, forgiveness, civil rights, orientalism, and community.
Sansei and Sensibility – In these buoyant and inventive stories, Karen Tei Yamashita transfers classic tales across boundaries and questions what an inheritance—familial, cultural, emotional, artistic—really means. In a California of the sixties and seventies, characters examine the contents of deceased relatives’ freezers, tape-record high school locker-room chatter, or collect a community’s gossip while cleaning the teeth of its inhabitants. Mr. Darcy is the captain of the football team, Mansfield Park materializes in a suburb of L.A., bake sales replace ballroom dances, and station wagons, not horse-drawn carriages, are the preferred mode of transit. The stories of traversing class, race, and gender leap into our modern world with wit and humor.
About the Authors:
Karen Tei Yamashita is the author of seven books, including I Hotel, a finalist for the National Book Award, and most recently, Letters to Memory, all published by Coffee House Press. Recipient of the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature and a U.S. Artists’ Ford Foundation Fellowship, she is professor emerita of literature and creative writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
About the host:
Andrew Way Leong is a comparativist who works primarily in Japanese and English with additional interests in Spanish and Portuguese. His research focuses on the literature of Japanese diasporas in the Americas as well as queer and critical theoretical approaches to the study of literary genre, gendered embodiment, and generational time. He is the translator of Lament in the Night. He is currently an Assistant Professor in UC Berkeley’s English Department.
Eastwind Books Multicultural Services (EBMS) is a 501(3)c non-profit dedicated to the promotion and accessibility of Asian American and Ethnic Multicultural Literature. EBMS is the community education arm of Eastwind Books of Berkeley which is comprised of a dedicated staff of booksellers, artists, poets, and community workers. Our events are for educational purposes and we appreciate your tax-deductible donations and continued support.